I recently attended my first AgChat Foundation Conference – Cultivate and Connect. Held December 8th – 9th in Kansas City, Missouri, the AgChat Conference lived up to the promise of empowering “farmers, ranchers, and agriculturalists with the tools to share their stories to consumers – on social media, one-on-one connections and at the legislative level”.
With a speaker line-up that read like the Who’s Who’s of the agriculture industry, and socially savvy attendees from all over the world, AgChat 2016 was truly a must-attend event for anyone invested in the agricultural sphere.
As a marketing and public relations consultant and first-generation farmer, I was excited to hear presentations by industry leaders like Vance Crowe (Monsanto), Missy Morgan (Osborn Barr), Greg Peterson (Peterson Brothers), and Leah Beyer (Elanco) – just to name a few.
I was equally excited to connect with some of my favorite ag influencers and bloggers that were in attendance: Lauren Arbogast (@PaintTheTownAg) , Kate Hagans (@KateHagans ), Janice Person (@JPLovesCotton), Jenny Burgess (@BurgessHillFarm) , Wanda Patsche ( @MinnFarmer) , and Krista Stauffer (@TheFarmersWifee) – again, just to name a few.
Having spent the past ten years in the agriculture industry, there’s a few things I’ve learned about “aggies” – while just a small percentage of population focused on feeding the world, agriculture professionals are some of the most inspiring and passionate individuals you’ll ever meet (regardless of how the markets are performing) and we love, LOVE, LOVEEEE our conferences.
While there were so many ah-ha moments throughout AgChat, here are the top four things I learned during this incredible conference:
Growing Your Tribe, Vance Crowe
Vance Crowe, Director of Millennial Engagement at Monsanto, discussed effective strategies for connecting with three target markets currently rocking the agriculture world – moms, millennials, and the food-minded consumer. Vance described these target markets, particularly the millennial demographic, as a “new wave” about to crash into the shore – one that’s “woken up” agriculture and encouraged them to share their “stories”.
But just telling the story of agriculture isn’t enough – it must be shared through networks, or “tribes”. The three tips Vance provided regarding sharing technical or scientific information (as we are so often called upon to do in the agriculture world) include: surprising angles, educational content, and values that align with the audience’s loyalties. Great insight into the new generation of consumers.
A Latte Way to Connect Using Shared Values, Missy Morgan
Missy Morgan, of Osborn Barr, shared her experiences connecting farmers and consumers through Common Ground – a volunteer-driven program focused on connecting producers with non-ag consumers.
The connection strategy Common Ground implements can best be described by the acronym “IPCR”:
For more information on how Common Ground using “IPCR” to connect with consumers, check out this insightful video:
Engaging in Hot Topics, Donna Moenning
Donna Moenning, of Look East, provided a great presentation, emphasizing how even in our digitally saturated, online work, integrity is still the most important persuasion tool for modern communicators. She reminded the audience that consumers make food choices that align with their values, and that a sustainable balance of economically viable, scientifically verified, and ethically grounded information drives knowledge and leads to meaningful engagement.
The 2009 Journal of Rural Sociology published, “Shared values are 3-5X more important in building trust than demonstrating competence.” See the graphic below:
Photo source: The Center for Food Integrity
Donna reminded the audience that the communications model agriculture has used for years no longer works. To connect with today’s millennial consumers, agriculture organizations must lead with shared values, followed by all the facts, science, and economic variables that validate industry operations.
Closing Keynote, Amberley Snyder
Wrapping up the conference, AgChat was honored to have the incredibly inspirational speaker, Amberley Snyder on the stage. Amberley is a champion barrel racer who’s dreams were (seemingly) cut short with an automobile accident left her paralyzed. Fighting her way back from tragedy, Amberley managed to defy doctor’s prognoses, eventually riding back into the competitive racing ring and inspiring millions across the world along the way.
Throughout sharing her inspirational story, Amberley reminded the audience that “there is no future in giving up”, and remained a living testament to how “good things can come out of not so good things”. While Amberley’s presentation was chock full of motivational moments, perhaps the most empowering statement I left with was: “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference”.
Click here to read Amberley’s story of hope and be sure to connect with her on Facebook.
Want to learn more about how millennials are influencing agriculture?
Check out Hannah's recent post "3 Ways Agriculture Can Connect with Millennials" and her millennial seminar offerings for more information.
About Hannah Becker:
Becker Digital is a full-service Marketing and Public Relations Agency dedicated to empowering mission-driven organizations to reach their goals. We apply our expertise in community development, social media strategy, and public relations to connect organizational clients with today’s always-scrolling online users.